Category Archives: Blog

Stress and Trauma

Dear Bloggers

Every day I am faced with stories of trauma. Not only trauma from physical injuries, but trauma inflicted on people by other people or by circumstances, trauma that happened in childhood, or more recent traumas.  One thing that strikes me is how often my patients think about other people. They worry about how they have hurt their families, especially their children, disregarding their own injuries, blaming themselves, taking responsibility when what has happened to them is in no way their responsibility.  

I have started working on my PTSD website. It will be a while coming, but in the meantime I have included a possible introduction. Any comments or thoughts would be welcomed. 

Thank you

Have a great weekend

Judy

Introduction to new PTSD website

Stress can affect your health in many ways. 



When nothing helps the pain

Sometimes your body needs a break. A break from the cycle of pain causing your alarm centre to fire up (limbic sytem) and the alarm centre causing pain.

You could try – recovery poses. One pose if for if you have pain standing or lying down – Recovery Pose 1. Other recovery pose 2 is if you have pain sitting. Use these positions every single time you have pain. It may mean every 10 or 20 minutes. Within 3 to 5 days you should notice improvement.

Also do the meditations even in the day, as often as possible to calm your brain and don’t forget to breathing.

Pain Warriors

Hello Bloggers

I have had a rather difficult two weeks. More than usual. Thank goodness my therapist was on hand on Friday afternoon.  I attended another very useful EMDR session. For those of you who haven’t heard of EMDR – please check out the blog post on August 20th 2019.  

I added this piece to Health Professionals (and another valuable link to Stories).   

Facilitating patients in their goals to wellness can be stressful. I know. I have found many tools to help me cope with stress, all of which I have shared on my website and on the Blog section (2019/Aug/20). First rule in a crisis – start with yourself before you can help others. Another helpful link to Fight Burnout.  If you have any suggestions, please help build and improve this website by adding your thoughts to the comment section found on each page. Thank you for helping families and communites cope with chronic pain. 

Good luck with your journeys. 

Judy

How to use program

Dear C.

Thank you for your query. I have a response which I hope may help.

I created the website so that patients in pain can pursue the program on their own.
When overwhelmed with pain, it is hard to even begin to work on a pain program – any pain program. Let me see if I can help. 
 
1. Severe pain is often not helped with the usual pain meds. People in pain are judged harshly and feel a sense of shame when they use opioids or Marijuana to cope. And then they often leave a doctors office feeling as if the pain is in their head. That is why I created the program.
2. If the pain is too severe, the person may require opioids to cope with the pain to start the program. Once the pain is a bit lower, then they can see a way to cope with the program. Sometimes Acetaminophen (with or without Ibuprofen OR Aleve) is enough. Person will have to check with doc to clear meds. 
3. Understanding that the pain doesn’t come from the brain – but that the brain registers the pain – is next. An alarmed brain causes pain. Pain causes an alarmed brain. Vicious cycle. Check out the first video on home page (improving pain – where to start?)
4. Step 1 – rate pain – very important – if person has high A.C.E. score (3 or over) then the person needs to work on Stress Anxiety and PTSD and the Daily Program
5. Step 2 – all pain causes stress. The body can calm the alarm centre of the brain with correct breathing. It requires a lot of practice but once learned and used all the time – helps enormously
6. Step 3 – explains pain
7. Stretching and moving is vital – this has to be started slowly and has to be done twice a day. I have recovery poses for back pain under Types of pain – look for recovery poses – Severe back pain may require these poses to be done every few minutes for the first few days – I have seen months of chronic pain relieved in 3-4 days by patients doing these poses everytime they feel pain. 
This is a good start. Person can check out specific types of pain. Feel free to ask questions. 

EMDR

EMDR has helped me cope with my trauma. My A.C.E. score is 6/10 and doing EMDR therapy has improved my confidence, my anxiety, depression and sleep. here is a short video which you may find interesting.

it is not for everyone. You do need to have all your mental health tools on board before attempting this procedure. These are a few of the vital ones:

Mindfulness

You may already be practising mindfulness without knowing you are. If you feel upset or stressed and you reach out to pray, that is a form of mindfulness. It means you are in the moment and aware of your reactions. Forgiveness is letting go which is also a form of mindfulness. The more you think about the future, the less mindful you are. 

Breathing

Breathing heals the body and the body heals the Limbic system. This technique is essential to calm the Limbic system which stores pain and past traumas. 

Body Calming through Yoga, Tai Chi or QiGong Daily Program

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – What you think is what you feel. 

Good Luck

Judy

Social Media

A year ago I started building my website. I was scared out of my wits, but the Gale Course offered through our library guided me wonderfully through the journey. I would have loved to have done a similar course to understand the rest of social media. A year later I feel I am only now beginning to get the hang of Twitter and Facebook, and don’t dare go to any of the other platforms. (Ha Ha – see – I have some jargon. Also could have used LOL but then always think of how I thought that meant lots of love – which confused my administrative assistant no end.)

I digress. As usual. Social Media has proven informative and fun. I am still learning the rules. In an attempt to spread the news of my website, I think I broke a zillion etiquette rules. But life is learning and I am now sharing a helpful article from Twitter that introduces a number of great hashtags and twitter handles that deal with chronic pain. I hope you find it interesting.

Social Media Skills for Professionals.

Although marked for professionals, the article mentions how important it is for patients to explore these avenues as well. Partnership in Care! Love it.

All the best

Judy

Pain Community

I love twitter, although the keys on my keyboard can be like magnets and I have to mindfully limit the time I spend reading tweets and clicking on articles. What I like about twitter is the information that pours out on a daily basis. Sure, some tweets are blips that flip past my consciousness, but there are many links to useful articles and information shared by people who are living with pain, coping, or not coping, sharing, being brave. Here is a lovely blog I read this afternoon. 

Personal Stories

It seems strange sharing my personal stories, but I’ve found healing through other people’s stories, and stories make us who we are. We are a collection of stories, stories from our past that have imprinted in our genes, and stories to come, paths we choose that determine where we may end up. Here’s my story.

In early 2016, I decided to start writing. We were enjoying the luxury of a sunny Arizona holiday, when I woke to a world of political speak that made me uneasy. I felt a sense of shame. I remembered how I’d grown up in South Africa, in a world of racial hate and pain, and done nothing. My excuse – my own pain – had stopped me from becoming involved in a necessary fight, a fight against hatred and injustice. But that excuse isn’t enough, and I still haven’t fully forgiven myself for sitting on the sidelines.

I decided to start writing to share my stories from South Africa, stories that still horrify and shame me. The journey seemed to be a pretty straight forward one. I would tell about apartheid, about a white minority government, about millions of people who suffered under an oppressive regime, and I would include the story of my own awakening to the horrors of South Africa. Simple, right? Oh, how wrong I was.

I polished 80 000 words off in about 3 months and sent the piece to my sister-in-law, the talented horror writer, Sarah Lotz. Nothing. Six months of dead space – the first few weeks spent tossing manically in bed dreaming of how wonderful the printed work would look, and the rest waiting, and realizing I wasn’t meant to be a writer.

The six months passed with no further writing, and then generous Sarah sent out a page of praise. She made valuable suggestions, but more importantly, she’d found a way to make me think I could write. (Many courses and drafts later, I realized what it takes to be a horror writer – a great sense of imagination – and she’s exercised that in finding praise for my early memoir). But – and that’s a big but – I initially blithely ignored her hints that I “could” look at writing courses.

I started another novel, a different novel, about 2 soldiers, one black, one white, one fighting against oppression and one fighting PTSD from fighting for a minority government. I polished that off in about 3 months and sent if off for publishing to 2 agents. Yes – those of you who are writers, probably even those who aren’t, are leaning back in your chairs, eyes wide, thinking who could possibly be so idiotic. Idiotic! Tru dat (I’m sorry – I’m learning that’s an appropriation, but I do it out of love for a phrase that always makes me smile).

Those of you with even a miniscule hint of racial sensitivity, would think who does this *%^& entitled *#@# white South African woman think she is writing a point of view of a person of colour. More than two years later I cringe. Luckily, I am not easily embarrassed, having a history of having embarrassed myself on so many occasions, I am now successfully immunized. Who says vaccinations don’t work?

The rejection letter made me pause – not an easy feat, as I am usually off running to polish off a task before heeding any instructions. I decided to complete a few courses. Thirteen courses later, and about as many drafts of another book, this time from a white woman’s point of view, I am realizing writing is a bit harder than it initially appeared. Who’d have thought?

But, while I’ve been on this writing journey, something amazing has happened. I’ve discovered a world outside of medicine, a world that’s led me closer to my patients and closer to myself. I’ve learned about my own inherent racism, how living in a racist society – and it doesn’t get any more racist than the society that bred apartheid – how a society like that insidiously breeds into you the ideas that different should be judged, that difference sets you apart, that difference instills fear and loathing.

You may wonder what this has to do with pain, but this journey has opened my eyes to all sorts of prejudice, helped me realize how we judge people, people in pain, pain expressed through addiction, or mental health illness, or pain that makes people struggle with everyday things that I’ve taken for granted, and how that judgement affects every person, how it reflects back on the person judging, and how it makes our world so far from where it could be.

I am continuing to learn, reading books that are enriching my life and hopefully helping me grow into a more compassionate person. I am learning about white fragility, about the legacy of racism and the damage it has caused, I am learning from authors, other writers, from other peoples’ stories in books, on the internet, Facebook, and on Twitter. I hope to continue learning and share what I have learned.

Have a great day and spread kindness and compassion where you can.

Shame / Opioids / Chronic Pain

Hello bloggers and readers

I have been studying a course on shame, and, after only the first three sessions, I am fired up to discuss my view on Shame/ Opioids/ and Chronic Pain.

Where does Shame fit in with Chronic Pain? Society decides certain norms. Because of the opioid restrictions, people with chronic pain are being shamed. Instead of politicians and legislators and policy makers focusing on the chronic pain problem, they have turned around and blamed one of the tools to fight chronic pain – opioids.

I believe that chronic pain is a result, for the most part, of poorly treated trauma – whether that be physical or mental trauma. The body doesn’t see the difference. Pain is Pain. When a society can’t take care of its members, then chronic pain is the result. Communities are the problem, not individuals. Policy makers don’t want you to focus on their poor decisions, their inadequate management of funds, their inability to provide effective and attainable healthcare. They want to blame anyone but themselves. They set about making traumatized people feel shame, as if they are to blame. 

Shame is power. Shame wields power in many ways. The person blaming – holds power over the person who feels shamed. AND Shame awakens our Inner Critic and our Inner Critic wields power over us. Our inner critic makes us sick. In the NICABM course, they liken shame to a “poisoned” plant.

Why do we feel shame? A feeling of shame arises when your Inner Critic makes you feel bad about yourself. Like poison seeping through a plant, it affects your growth. The way to cure yourself from the toxin, is to recognize it, that way you can find the antidote.

Why do we feel shame? Trauma is passed through the genes and trauma imprints as early as the third trimester, which means that shame can be activated very early on in our lives. Like a poisoned seed, it can affect the growth of a plant. But Shame serves a purpose. We are genetically wired to huddle together in groups. Our survival depended on it. Our ancestors knew that left alone, you were defenseless, so if the tribe kicked you out, you died.

Shame is therefore a defense mechanism. Our inner critic is there to make sure we adhere to society norms so that we can fit in, become one with a herd. If we feel shamed, or are shamed by society, our inner critic is there to haul us back into line so that we can be one with the group.

Society wants to keep the power – they don’t want us to focus on the actual problems. They focus instead on the victims in pain and they heap criticism on the millions in pain. Our inner critics are genetically wired to “protect” us and we don’t recognize how staying in our negative space gives others power over us.  We have grown to believe our inner critic. It is hard to change these negative voices in our heads. It is time to take back our power.

There is an epidemic of chronic pain, physical and emotional. The millions of people in pain are paying a terrible price. Living with pain takes enormous strength, yet society makes us out to be weak. By placing a stigma on pain, they are silencing millions. Think about U.F.Os and E.Ts – a decade ago we would never openly talk about believing in “life out there”. Today – 50% of people openly talk about the possibility of life on other galaxies. This needs to happen around conversations of pain.

How can we take the power away from Shame? By using our voice. I will not be silenced. I live with a chronic mental illness and I am proud to be standing strong despite significant mental ill health. More and more doctors and health professionals are opening up about their own pain and the more people stand up and voice their pain, the stronger our voice will be.

Make your voice heard. Own up to physical and emotional pain. Tell your inner critic to step aside. We are part of a strong community of people who are brave enough to voice their pain. We will not be silenced. Hear us Roar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All the best my warrior friends

Judy

In NICABM courses, they teach us that

More Articles on Opioid Restrictions

Thank goodness more and more physicians and health care providers are realizing that opioid restrictions have caused an increase in illicit drug use and overdoses. Sensible and safe prescribing is necessary, but just as necessary is to provide patients with a good quality of life and chance in partnership in care.

Great article from Practical Pain Management.